UFT News & Updates for January 12, 2021

Dear Colleagues,

Happy 2021!  I hope you had a relaxing break and that the rest of this New Year won’t be as disturbing as last week.    

Hopefully some of the information that follows will be useful.  If you are receiving this email via your enyfa.net account please send me a non-DOE email so you can be sure to receive future updates.  UFT policy discourages the use of school email accounts for disseminating union information.

Our next ENYFA UFT chapter meeting will be Thursday, January 14, 2021 at 5:00 PM via Zoom (with a make-up meeting at 10 AM this Saturday for those who have a conflict with this time).  I will be reporting on anything new I learn at the UFT Delegate Assembly tomorrow.  This may include, ongoing discussions between the city and the union regarding reopening plans, teacher evaluations and other matters.  Please try to join us.

I often include information in these updates after getting questions from ENYFA staff.  You can reach me by voice or text at 347-217-2219 and my email is jlawhead33@gmail.com.  Please let me know about your questions and concerns.

Remote Instruction Until When?

There is not much clear information about how soon the NYC DOE intends to reopen school buildings for grades 6-12.  Mayor de Blasio has not backed away from his strong assurances that he wants that to happen as soon possible, preferably this month. 

A message somewhat in conflict with these declarations went out last Sunday in the form of Chancellor Carranza’s request that teachers who are currently teaching remotely wait for “further guidance” before scheduling an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccination.  Since the vaccine comes in two doses spread out over several weeks there seems to be an assumption that teachers who are now remote will remain that way for at least a month.

At the December 16 UFT Delegate Assembly Michael Mulgrew called the delays and limited capacity for on-site testing the most significant obstacle to any expanded reopening.  Not only is there insufficient on-site testing but the return of test results has been extremely slow sometimes taking five days.  Here is an editorial by Mulgrew that ran in the New York Daily last month.

During the same meeting Mulgrew also said he expected high schools to open sometime during the spring.  The reason he says are state course requirements that require in-person activities.

School Closings Increasing

You can access an expandable map online showing the location of these schools.

According to the Situation Room table on this Daily Covid map page, results coming in yesterday were positive for 135 students and 140 staffers.  As a result of the surging pandemic 853 of the classrooms opened in November are now closed.  One hundred twelve buildings are closed for 24 hours and 114 have been closed for 10 days.

We know that some of the safety standards agreed to in September have gone out the window.  Mayor de Blasio maintains that the infection rate in the schools is “extraordinarily low” and suggests that schools could remain open even during a general shutdown.  Michael Mulgrew has said that when the city’s infection rate reaches 9 percent of those tested on a seven-day daily average, by the state’s calculations, he will urge that there be a shutdown of all schools.   It’s anybody’s guess how Andrew Cuomo would respond to this.

Whom to believe?  If you trust de Blasio’s declarations that we are just a few week away from having grades 6-12 reopened, you might consider making an appointment to get vaccinated.

The medical sites that are administering the vaccine require a photo ID and proof of   employment such as a recent DOE paystub.  The sites themselves are not screening school employees with regard to who is working on-site or remotely.

The UFT is also matching school workers with vaccination site based on a screening survey.

Challenges Ahead

There are a lot of questions besides when school buildings will reopen or close again.  One is whether students are going to be offered make-up classes and when.  Another is how schools will deal with budget cuts caused by the loss of student enrollment.  There is also concern about the online programs that have proliferated to support online learning and the problem of mayoral control during the pandemic.

For an interesting discussion of a large range of topics I recommend listening to the December interviews with Michael Mulgrew and Mark Cannizzaro of the administrators union, CSA, on the Talk out of School program on WBAI.

Virtual Content Specialist

We discussed this new position at the December chapter meeting.  It involves at least five hours per week outside of teaching time.  It will be supervised by Tweed.  The posting is here.  The job posting contains a link to an online form with which to express your interest.

Member assistance during the pandemic

The UFT Member Assistance Program collaborates with mental health professionals at the Center for Trauma and Stress Education to bring UFT members training for the management of stress and trauma recovery. You can register online.  Read the flyer here.

Free CTLE hours in January

The three courses have multiple dates 

  • All About the Google G Suite;
  • Educational Equity: Advocating for Our Multilingual Learners;
  • Second Language Acquisition: Meeting the Needs of English Language Learners

More information and to registration

Film Series

The UFT is hosting a film series the theme of which is “From Chisholm to Harris: Breaking the Glass Ceiling in Government.”

If being with “Unbought and Unbossed.” The movie will be followed by a special panel discussion about the journey of women of color who have run for president.

Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021 at 4 o’clock PM.

Register now

Black Lives Matter at School

There will be a city-wide Black Lives Matter at School Curriculum Share. It will take place January 23-24.  Sessions will run from 11 – 4 o’clock Saturday and 11 – 2 o’clock Sunday.  From the organizers:

We’re particularly looking for folks who can share about centering Black joy, rather than Black trauma, and folks who are interested in helping people workshop their lesson plans.

Use this form to get more information.

Further reading:  Invasion of the Capitol

There has a lot said and written about what occurred in Washington, D.C. last week.  I found these two articles insightful.

Was the Riot Really Unprecedented?  (National Geographic)

These Black Capitol Police Officers Describe Fighting Off “Racist A** Terrorists” (Buzzfeed)

Good & welfare

If I don’t see you at Thursday’s meeting (or the Saturday make-up) please stay safe and have a pleasant MLK weekend!

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